The Casting Game (feature film) by Joy Hopwood

The Casting Game poster sml

The Casting Game is an ensemble piece that highlights the journeys of a group of unconventional actors trying to make it big in Sydney, an Asian-Australian family trying to make a visiting relative feel at home with Might- T- mite and meat pies, and a seemingly ill-fated love.

Gary is a 35-year-old brick layer who has had no luck in love. On a night out with his high school mates – Lynn, Indigo, and Luke – he ends up in a bet to see if he can land a date with the next woman he sees. Along comes Sarah, a beautiful radio producer who is in a wheelchair.

Stacey Copas by Cassie Bedford sml

In a Love Actually meets Muriel’s Wedding in a modern day twist, this film explores what it means to find happiness and joy in a diverse, dynamic world, in a beautifully fun and meaningful way.

An Aussie story full of heart and triumph amongst a diverse group of friends, The Casting Game is a relatable story that tugs at our heartstrings while making us laugh. It reminds us that we can find belonging in unexpected places.

The Casting Game with director Pearl Tan sml

Writer / producer, Joy Hopwood, wrote the screenplay just under two weeks after watching an Australian film last September in 2016 and was inspired to write something just as good with diversity at the forefront!

“In our current modern society, I feel that it’s driven by ego, self importance and over evaluation, this film takes us on a journey and reminds us, in a subtle way, what it’s like to step in other people’s shoes from all walks of life and to be mindful of others. I feel that’s what our society is missing – mindfulness and humility. My aim is to entertain people yet bringing that sense of community back into our society, which I feel is desperately missing,” says Joy.

Stacey Copas & Cast at Christmas pre show

Leading lady, Stacey Copas says, “when Joy asked me to act in her film at our first meeting together I couldn’t believe what an amazing an opportunity it was and I pretty much jumped at the opportunity right away! I’m passionate about everyone getting an equal opportunity and I’m so inspired by Joy and the whole team who have poured blood, sweat and tears into getting the project off the ground. Our camaraderie and joint purpose on set can definitely been seen in the final edit. I’m really proud of the Casting Game; its beautifully told story which everyone will be able to relate to.”

Erica Long and puppets sml

Supporting actress Erica Long says, “During my script read, I found that with every page I turned, I became more and more immersed in the characters’ lives. The characters are all so different (in terms of their personality, ethnicity and personal background) and I loved reading about how they interacted with each other – it’s not everyday that you read a script, which reflects our multicultural society. There’s also so much warmth and hilarity in the script – I knew instantly that I wanted to be a part of the transformation from paper to screen. Pearl Tan (director) and Joy Hopwood (producer, writer and actor) are champions of diversity in this country and you really see this come across in The Casting Game. Joy specifically incorporated into her script a group of friends from different ethnic backgrounds, an intelligent and beautiful woman with a mobility disability, 2 Australian-Chinese sisters (who are more Aussie than Chinese!) and their long lost sister from China. It’s quite a feat! The different characters’ backgrounds of course contribute to the story but the characters are not reduced to a stereotype (e.g. your Asian nerd). During rehearsals we created each character’s own backstory and Joy was happy to make our suggested script changes to ensure that we were each happy with the complexity of our characters. When you watch the film, you will see that Joy has weaved a series of funny and nuanced stories together into a coherent whole and, simply put, you will forget about “diversity” as such – the end result of Joy’s hard work is that you just focus on how the characters interact with each other.”

Nicholas Brown sml on set - The Casting Game. Photo by Cassie Bedford

When asked, “Why did you want to act in The Casting Game?” Supporting actor Nicholas Brown says, “I’ve been a fan of Joy Hopwood and Pearl Tan for a long time. I met Joy several years ago when we both made speeches for the Asian Alliance for parliament We both found a synergy because of our experiences as non Caucasian actors in Australia. Pearl and I have written and worked together for several years. I’m inspired by both of these amazing women, their advocacy and their creativity. Besides fluffing I’d do anything on film for them! Plus it’s rare to see a cast so diverse in Aussie cinema. The fact that there’s no major reference to anyone’s ethnicity is refreshing. The cast are all Australian who just happen to be from diverse backgrounds. My character is a brickie! I love that. The actors have been cast against type and this is exciting and rare.”

The Casting Game, written & produced by Joy Hopwood (Joy House Productions) and produced by Priya Roy (Vissi D’Arte Films) and directed by Pearl Tan (Pearly Productions) premieres at the annual Joy House Film Festival September 10th, 2017. 4.30pm at Hoyts https://Joyhousefilmfestival.eventbrite.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Stacey Copas about her latest film and diversity.

 

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How did your acting career begin?

I’m currently in the midst of my first acting gig – a totally newbie to the world of acting. I’m playing the role of Sarah in the feature film “The Casting Game”. I was initially approached to consider the role via a LinkedIn message which was totally unexpected.

Who were your role models growing up?

As a young person I was mostly drawn to athletes and musicians – neither of which I actually aspired to be. There certainly weren’t any diverse role models who represented my own diversity in any area of public life I was aware of.

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Do you think there are enough diverse representations on TV / Film?

There is a lack of diversity in TV and film. Who we see on screens does not represent who we see in the community in our daily life. I feel having roles written that are specifically for diverse characters will help to improve this. Also having viewers support TV and film with diverse characters/casting and demand more diversity will help.

What are you currently working on?

Currently preparing for the feature film “The Casting Game” in which I play the lead role of Sarah. It is exciting to be part of a project that has a very diverse cast and crew. As a person who uses a wheelchair it is fabulous to be cast in the role as the majority of characters with disability in TV and film are played by actors without disability.

Stacey Copas high res headshot (1)

What more do you want to achieve in your career?

Being such early days, I’m looking forward to exploring a variety of roles that will challenge me and tell great stories.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years time and why?

In 10 years time I would like to be continuing to stretch my comfort zones in all areas of life. By being the best person, speaker, athlete – and actor I can be I hope to inspire others to aim higher and dream bigger and to be the person with a disability with a strong public profile who can be the role model that I lacked as a young person.

Q and A with Indira Naidoo – The Edible City

Indira Naidoo is a renowned journalist, best known as SBS News host. In 2006 she became media manager and spokeswoman for Choice magazine and then in 2009 was one of 261 candidates selected to be trained in Melbourne by former US Vice President Al Gore to conduct regular presentations about the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. Her first book, The Edible Balcony, was an instant best seller. Yesterday, Indira launched her second book, The Edible City at the Sydney School of Mechanics. I had the pleasure of interviewing her today for my blog.

Indira 2 sml

The transition from media into environmental activism was an easy one for Indira, because she often reported on issues such as the environment, sustainability and climate change-issues she was passionate about. When working at Choice, rain water tanks were illegal at the time, but today, they’re all part of ‘every day living’ and ‘sustainability.’ It all started when a market farmer gave Indira a tomato to taste, and when she bit into it, she was in heaven. “It was the best tomato I’ve ever tasted,” Indira said. This inspired her to transform her 20 metres balcony to an edible garden consisting of fruit, vegetables and herbs. David Wenham approached her after buying her first book The Edible Balcony to become the Wayside Chapel Ambassador, because her book inspired him to transform his small balcony to an edible garden.

Indira 1 sml

Indira helped transform The Wayside Chapel‘s rooftop to an edible garden. And in July 2015 they installed a bee hive in the corner of the garden, so they now have delicious honey. There are horticulture / garden volunteers who help daily and homeless people too. Jon, a gardener there says, “Our garden is a constant reminder that we live in a community, not an economy.” The Wayside chapel’s garden help feed the homeless and gives a constant supply of nutritious and tasty food to their wonderful cafe too. Even Kylie Kwong’s restaurant Billy Kwong even uses the Wayside Chapel’s honey in their pork buns.  The Wayside Chapel cafe is open to the public weekdays. At Christmas (2015), 600 homeless people came to the Wayside Chapel’s Christmas lunch and most of the food was produced by their own edible garden!

The Edible city

Today, Indira spreads her message of sustainability to schools, corporate businesses, councils and governments, not only in Australia but overseas too, (e.g. New York) “making urban spaces liveable” is a passionate mission of hers. I had the pleasure of interviewing Indira for my blog.

What gives you joy now in your life these days?

“Probably things to do with growing, gardens and food I guess and friends and family to share it with. Food is about as intimate as our connection with nature gets, putting it our mouths. The intimacy that comes from gardens and food.”

Who were your role models growing up?

“I’ve got lots of areas of interest – political leaders, presidents and prime ministers and political activists. From Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Indira Gandhi, JFK, David Attenborough, Gough Whitlam.”

What are your views on diversity now in Australian film, television and in the media? Do you think it’s getting better?

“I think in the last fifteen years we gained a lot of ground in the 70’s and early eighties and late nineties and in the new century it’s been wound back. A lot about how we value diversity and multiculturalism, generally in our community and in the arts I’d say it’s not looking as rosy as the path we were on about 15 years ago and a lot of that has to do with the political leadership of the country which hasn’t sold the value of diversity. And so a lot of it comes connected to that, whether it’s arts bodies, theatre groups and television shows, it all flows on from the prime ministers of our time and how much they value diversity, so I think we’ve gone back a little bit in the last fifteen years.”

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In your latest book, Jon said, “Our garden is a constant reminder that we live in a community, not an economy,” do you think our society is slowly becoming to value the importance of community or our economy these days?

“We just have to look at the news each night, how it covers stories like finances, houses and properties and how it talks about the economy and not much about this poor old lady across the road. There isn’t a lot of regard paid to the value of community, there’s a lot of emphasis on the economy and growing wealth, money and finances, so I think we’ve lost the balance, we’re out of balance at the moment and we need to go back to value the community.”

What would you like people to take away after reading The Edible City? And what would your legacy be?

“If I can just open people up to look at their living spaces in a different way and then they can bring more nature into the city and their lives and engage them to grow their own food, like lettuces, as there’s a real joy attached to that. It’s a lot of fun. Once you grow that seed and watch that seed germinate and then see the fruit and being able to eat what you grow, is just such a wonderful, joyous connection to nature and our environment. It’s just so tasty and delicious. Once you start that journey, you’ll never look back, bringing more nature and green into our cities it can only be better for our quality of life and overall happiness.”

What an inspiring woman Indira Naidoo is! The Edible City is now available at all good bookstores and The Wayside Chapel (The Wayside Chapel 29 Hughes Street, Potts Point, 2011. Phone: 02 9581 9100) has a tour coming up at the end of February 2016. The Wayside Café is open Mon – Fri 9am-7.30pm Sat 9am – 4:30pm Sun 12pm – 4:30pm. I’ll see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas joy 2015 (plus foodies & creative ideas)

Christmas is coming up shortly and it’s that time of the year where I reflect the year – 2015

Every year I write a list of things I’m grateful for.

Family and Friends – during the good times and the bad times, you always know who your true friends are for the most challenging times of your life. My late mother always said, “There’s always someone in the world worse off than you, so don’t feel sorry for yourself.”

 

puppets  kids

I’m proud that I’ve been able to bring The Wong Side of Life’s Kindness is for Free into schools – an anti-racism & and anti-bullying initiative. We’ve been able to add role playing (drama) by using my puppets so children experience what it’s like to be “the bully” and “the bullied,” as well as making popsicle puppets as part of a creative craft activity.

 

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We also had a great Joy House Film Festival year, with the most entries received and audience thus far. I look forward to spread the joy each year by showcasing emerging filmmakers’ short film and giving prizes for not only best film, but also best youth and diversity short film. This is proudly supported by MEAA’s Diversity Committee. It’s a free yearly public event. Thank you to our sponsors – Media Super, Hoyts and Bendigo Bank (Willoughby North).

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I love giving talks and was lucky to do so for Laneway Learning this year – a great crowd and AAFFN panel in Melbourne.

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Christmas is also a difficult time for people, especially those in hospital. Every year I like to donate my Fairy Joy books to my local children’s hospital. To be able to give is most rewarding feeling.

FJ         FJ2

I hope you’ll be able to pay it forward, give joy, be loyal to your family & friends. Being grateful, ethical and giving is good for the soul – it’s a way of living a joyful life!

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Blessings to you and may 2016 be awesome for all.

Here are some creative foodies, craft & art ideas you can make and share for Christmas. Spread the joy!

* CREATIVE FOODIES IDEAS *

straw

Found on welke.nl

 

riley

 

http://www.rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com

w

 blogs.lasoo.com.au

f

lovethispic.com

CREATIVE CHRISTMAS CRAFT IDEAS

Christmas tree hands – I did this in my creative lesson with the school kids- they loved it!

hands 

Christmas tree reindeer made from pegs – made by my next door neighbour’s son.

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Reindeer egg cartoon head

crafty 

Found on craftymorning.com

Thumb print reindeers

f 

Found on flickr.com

 

CREDITS:

Moje Wypieki, indulgy.com, http://www.lovethispic.com/image/48714/diy-food-christmas-trees,

chickabug.com, http://rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com.au/ ,  Newfoundland Memories Of Home’s Page ,

http://www.lovethispic.com/image/42356/christmas-santa-strawberries, http://blogs.lasoo.com.au/tag/christmas-

tree/, http://www.etsy.com/, http://craftori.com/, http://etsylush.com/, https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-

a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/227961_429493270441099_640727145_n.jpg,

 

 

My Melbourne Trip (AAFFN)

On Saturday 28th November 2015, I flew to Melbourne to be part of AAFFN’s panel and spoke about diversity in the arts and curation of content for the Joy House Film Festival. The event started by showcasing a selection of films that were chosen from Singapore Festival, Persian Film Festival and The Joy House Film Festival. The event was chaired by Amadeo Marquez Perez. The other guest panelists included: Sukhmani Khorana, Kevin Bathman (Carnival of the Bold) and Sanaz Fotouhi (Persian Film Festival).

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Photo by Mayu Kanamori

We all spoke about the importance of showcasing content that is relevant and reflective of the society in which we live in today. Kevin Bathman spoke on how Carnival of the Bold focuses on emerging talent and Sanaz Fotouhi spoke on how they sometimes bring in big name artists, because they bring in an audience for the Persian Film Festival. Sukhmani Khorana spoke about the importance of being true to your audience and showing integrity on choice of content. I spoke about the importance of “story” when curating short films of joy and diversity, despite having “famous” filmmakers submitting to the Joy House Film Festival, I always go with the filmmaker who told their story well.

Afterwards we had a wonderful Q & A session followed by lunch. It was great to socialise with other people with the same passion for story telling and films as myself. Thank you to AAFFN for putting on such a successful event.

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Even though my trip to Melbourne was short, I throughly enjoyed seeing the popular tourist sites.

I hopped on a tram which took me around Melbourne City.

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I went to the Queen Victoria Markets and enjoyed all the foodie treats.

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The Melbourne State library

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The Wheeler Centre (they just so happened to have an event chaired by Benjamin Law – Is Australia Racist?)

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Melbourne City

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The Joy House Film Festival 2015

The third Joy House Film Festival was on Sunday the 13th September 2015.

All the guests were delighted to receive a free showbag full of goodies on

arrival. A great variety of films were selected in the programme.

(They included animation, chick flick, stopmotion animation, drama,

documentary, comedy, music video) with the main theme of JOY & diversity.

The best 15 short films were selected out of 96 entries. The judges included

The Mayor and renowned actress Menik Gooneratne.

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THE WINNERS LIST

The Present (animation) won this year’s Media Super’s Best Short Film.

Directors Jacob Frey .Writers Jacob Frey, Fabio Coala

Producers Anna MataczJacob Frey) Germany

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BENDIGO BANK’S BEST YOUTH FILM winner went to Marriage Equality

AUS (YOUTH entry- animation. Written / Directed / Produced and narrated

by Josh Lorschy)

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BENDIGO BANK’S BEST SCHOOL KIDS’ WORKSHOP – claymation went to

The Perfect Pasta. (Written, Produced and Directed by Scott Petersen)

Scottie Petersen 1

HOYTS PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD winner was Silence is Golden.

(Writer / Director / Producer: Katharine Rogers) Australia.

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NORTH SHORE DRAMA’S BEST DIVERSITY was Game On

(Written, Directed and Produced by Jennie Crystle) US

Game On

                                      FINALISTS

  1. Top Delight (Written, Directed and Produced by Hayley Warnock) Aus

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2. Game On (Written, Directed and Produced by Jennie Crystle) US

Game On

3. Oh Whale (Director & Writer: Joana Locher. Producer Gerd Gockell) Switzerland

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4. Clean Restart (Writer & Director: Liliana Braumberger. Producer: Libby Porter) Australia

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5. A Joyful Dream (claymation) – Children’s workshop entry. (Produced by James and Sophia Wong.

Written & Directed by Sophia Wong) Australia.

Sophia

6.  Paths We Walk (documentary) – (Directors & Producers: Scott Granville, Ben Woollen. Writer: Scott Granville) New Zealand.

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7. Aunt Marulan (animation) (Director / Writer / Producer: Michelle Lia) Australia.

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8.  Mop Head (Producer & Director: David Gannon. Writers: Carl J. Sorheim with David Gannon, Nathan Strauss and Troy Larkin) Australia.

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9. The Perfect Pasta. SCHOOL KIDS’ WORKSHOP – claymation. (Written, Produced and Directed by Scott Petersen

Scottie Petersen 1

10. Flowers. (Director and Writer: Sabina Sattar. Producer: Sabina Sattar & Monika Kocian) U.K.

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11. Homeless Joe (stop motion animation) Writer / Producer / Director: Linda Niksic) Australia

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.28.33 PM12. Rusty (SCHOOL KIDS WORKSHOP entry – claymation. Writer / Producer / Director: Caleb Allen) Australia.

Caleb Allen

13. Marriage Equality AUS (YOUTH entry- animation. Written / Directed / Produced and narrated by Josh Lorschy)

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14. Silence is Golden. (Writer / Director / Producer: Katharine Rogers) Australia.

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15. Future Dreamer (Music Video) (Director / Writer / Producer – Kaya Finlayson) Australia.

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16. Dad in Mum (French Short Film with subtitles) (Writer / Producer / Director: Fabrice Bracq) France.

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17. The Present (animation) Directors Jacob Frey .Writers Jacob Frey, Fabio Coala Producers Anna MataczJacob Frey) Germany

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THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CAME & to our sponsors.

The Crowd at JHFF 2015

Hoyts logo jpeg

Bendigo bank logo

North Shore Drama

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Launching Australia’s newest Diversity Fund

On Tuesday, 17th March, it was a great honour to help launch Australia’s newest Diversity Fund, founded by Pearl Tan (Pearly Productions) and Jessica Symes (Symes Group).

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ABOUT PEARL TAN

Pearl Tan is the director of Pearly Productions, creating independent films and producing videos for businesses and arts organisations. Her work focuses on diversity, as the creator of YouTube series ‘Minority Box’ and as co-chair of the Equity Diversity Committee. She graduated from the NIDA Acting course in 2005. Originally from Western Australia, she also holds a Communications degree majoring in Media Studies from Edith Cowan University.

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ABOUT JESSICA SYMES 

Jessica Symes has been a corporate trainer/ facilitator for the past ten years working with CEO’s, CFO’s, Executives and Politicians. She’s an experienced coach and facilitator, training 1.1 as well as small and large groups in the areas of Communications, Leadership, Team Building, Public Speaking, Corporate Presentations, Voice, Physical Impact/ Body Language, Media Training and Women in Business. In her earlier career has taught at all the major Drama and Acting Schools in Sydney. She is the CEO and Founder of the Symes Group which is a collection of Creative enterprises focused on empowering individuals and their orginisations to identify their goals and reach their full potential.

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Together, Pearly Productions and Symes Group launched the Independent Theatre Diversity Fund.  “The main goals of this fund are to give talented independent producers a way of putting on a show with more ease. The fund will provide a small cash budget, rehearsal space, a video trailer, stills photography, marketing and social media strategy advice and anything else that I can think of and can find support for!” says Pearl Tan.

There are wonderful examples of great indigenous work being produced (Sapphires, Redfern Now, Black Comedy etc) that are a result of financial support and mentorship from places like Screen Australia and the Australia Council. Learning from this model, Pearl says, they would love to support diverse work in a more general way to allow more opportunities for development of these unique storytellers. It also aims to bring awareness at a grassroots level, as it will encourage independent producers seeking financial and in-kind support for their show to analyse whether their production includes diversity.

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Augusta Supple was the first speaker in a line up of incredible speakers talking about the importance of diversity in art and business. Other amazing speakers included Alana Valentine, Anthony Skuse, Glen Boreham and myself. The vibe was electric with everyone excited to support diversity in the arts. Together we spoke how diversity has helped our business to grow and connect with the wider community. I hope this fund will also open the eyes of TV networks, film and theatre producers across our nation, so they can see the value and importance of diversity.

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JOY’S SPEECH 

It’s a great honour to be here today for the launch of Symes Group and Pearly Productions’ new Diversity Fund. I just wish there was something like this when I first started in the industry.

When I grew up in Australia there were very few people of colour in theatre, TV and in Film. No one I could identify with or look up to. I vividly remember my first day at school, I realized I was the only Chinese girl and at lunchtime, I watched & wanted to play basketball with the year six boys. I seized the moment when their basketball rolled out of the court and I quickly grabbed it and threw it back to them, hoping they’d ask me to join in and be their friend, but instead, they shouted, “Hands off our ball you bloody ugly JAP!” I paused and thought – Jap? But I’m an Aussie, an Aussie-Chinese?

If there was only representation of people looking like myself in theatre, TV and in film, with every day multicultural stories without stereotypes, perhaps that incident wouldn’t have occurred because acceptance was naturally portrayed. Also perhaps if there was diverse representation maybe people would be able to tell Chinese and Japanese people apart instead of thinking we Asians all look the same and we’re all related to each other!

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Australia is a diverse country with 1/3 of the Australian population born overseas. One in five Australians has a disability and three percent have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage. So we are a diverse society and this must be reflected, not only in the arts but in business too, because everyone needs to feel that they belong.

Theatre, film and TV are powerful mediums where this positive change can occur. Who would have thought that my experiences of racism were the driving force for me to want to work in the arts industry? It wasn’t until university when I was on prac, that an Aboriginal boy and a Chinese girl came up to me and told me that they wanted to work in the performing arts industry but they said, “You don’t see anyone looking like us on TV, so why should we even try?” I then blurted back, “Oh I’m going to be first Asian presenter on Play School and if I can achieve this you can too.” They both rolled their eyes and said, “Yeah right!”

B_Joy Hopwood-Play School

Those two kids were the driving force for me to sell everything I owned in Perth and move to Sydney where I bought a video camera and wrote my own Play School scripts and sent it to the ABC. After two attempts of auditioning, I won the role which was a breakthrough for Children’s TV. It’s not until many years later that I soon discovered the after effect it had on the next generation. It was only a month ago in my book club that a new member, a young Chinese girl came up to me and said, “Joy you got me through my school years because there were hardly any Asians at my country school. You made me feel that I was OK.”

After Play School I started up my own business Joy House Productions, where I produce the yearly Joy House Film Festival. This is a positive film festival showing short films with the theme of joy and diversity where we award a cash prize for not only best film but the best Diversity film too. Thanks to our sponsors like the Symes Group, as my festival would not be possible without them.

Joy House Film Festival crowd final

Also my other project The Wong Side of life, a theatre play about bullying and racism with puppets and actors playing alongside each other, for children. It’s now in video form thanks to Pearly Productions who I collaborated with. This is now in schools and is most rewarding when a child comes up to me and says, “I always thought it was me with the problem!” and I always reply, “No it’s the bully or the racist with the problem, not you!”

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Both projects are equally important to me because of the “diversity” element.

Today we’re celebrating building communities, networking, supporting each other so together we can be a united force and a voice for diversity in the arts and in business. This Diversity fund is a step forward and has a positive snowball effect, paying it forward for a better future for a more inclusive society thanks to Pearl and Jessica. Thank you.

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